Some players choose their games by theme or by the number of features offered, while others also take the return to player in consideration. RTP does not only apply to slot machines, it also applies to every other game where a casino collects bets and pay out potential winnings. The most famous of such games are Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat and Slots.

In this article we will explain what RTP means, how it is calculated and why it is important.

What does Return to Player mean?

Return to Players (short RTP), also known as payout percentage or expected return, is the long-term statistical rate of the total money won divided by the total money staked. In other words, it is the percentage of stakes a game returns to players in the long run.  

Let’s look at an example:

If a game has a RTP of 95% it means players can expect the game to return € 0.95 for every € 1 wagered on the game over a long period of time.

As this is only true in the long-term. It does not mean that every play or series of plays will return this percentage. Especially in the short-term anything can happen as we all know. Moreover, games are not “compensated”, so just because you lost a lot of bets in a row, it does not mean that this will be followed by a series of winnings. The outcome of one bet does not affect the outcome of the next. So, never play with money you are not prepared to lose.

The opposite of the payout ratio is the house edge. The house edge, or the advantage of the house, is calculated as 100% minus RTP. So, if a game has a return to player of 95%, the house edge is 5%. Meaning, that over the long run, the house will keep about 5% of all money bet at that game.

How to calculate RTP?

In theory the RTP of any game can be calculated by dividing the total amount returned to players by the total amount gambled by those players. Let’s say a game pays out € 9,200 while the total amount gambled is € 10,000. This would result in a RTP of 0.92 or 92%. However, this number does not indicate how often you can expect to win. Especially when talking about slot machines.

In some games it is pretty easy to calculate the RTP like for Blackjack, where you know you will probably win around half the bets you place. But for other games like slot machines, or craps it is more difficult to determine the RTP. Especially when talking about different kinds of table games your betting strategy often greatly influences the RTP. As a bad betting system can decrease the return to player way below 50%.

Talking about slot machines the RTP is usually calculated over a minimum of 1 million spins. Slots often offer advanced features which makes it more complex calculating the RTP and a larger number of spins is necessary.

Why is it important to know the return to player of a game?

For experienced players who gamble on a frequent basis, RTP should be an important factor in determining which game to play. A high RTP indicates that you get paid more in the long run than playing a game with a low RTP. Everyone prefers being paid 95% over 92%.

However, if you are a casual player, who enjoys slot games for a short period of time, RTP is not really important. You probably choose your preferred slot based on theme, features and quality rather than looking for the best game to play.

For casinos on the other hand, RTP plays an important role, as higher RTPs will probably attract more players.

Variance vs RTP

Variance, also known as volatility, determines whether a game pays out frequent small winnings or infrequent large winnings. In other words, a game with a low variance will pay you small winnings quite often. Whereas in a game with high variance you will lose most of the time but when you win, you win bigger amounts. Thus, games with a different variance can have the same RTP.

The variance can also differ on the types of bets you make. Talking about roulette for example, betting on a color, all winnings are paid out as double of the bet. Usually this happens more frequently than for example betting on a single number, where all winnings are paid out as 36x the bet.

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